ArtHouse reviews: 20,000 Days on Earth

By ArtHouse Crouch End, 29 Sep 2014

20,000 Days Film

If you’re a fan of Nick Cave, you’ll know that 20,000 Days on Earth isn’t going to be a straightforward documentary about a day in his life, or even a straightforward vanity project. A post-punk iconic musician, most famously with the Bad Seeds, singer-songwriter renowned for the darkness in his music and writing, actor (Wings of Desire, Johnny Suede, to name but two), screenwriter and novelist, he would disappoint with anything less than cryptic.
 
Co-written by Cave and directed by video artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, his fictionalised 20,000th day starts at home with him waking up with his wife and ends with him eating pizza and watching TV with his kids, and in between weaves the mundane with the surreal. His skinny, pale presence in immaculate dark suits and jet black hair swept backwards stage-manages every scene. He grapples with life’s big issues of ageing, religion, love and death through a session with his analyst (played by British psychoanalyst Darian Leader), lunch with Bad Seeds Warren Ellis, and conversations while driving his Jaguar with friends Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue. There’s a trawl through his memorabilia and stories about his relationship with his father, Nina Simone, and a strangely moving account of his first meeting with the woman who became his wife. Reality and fantasy drift together none more so than the scene with Kylie as they drive through the night-time streets of Brighton in the rain. The cinematography, featuring wide screen shots of Brighton’s sea front and stormy skies is captivating.
 
Along the way we learn about an artist’s view of the meaning of song, performance, and the transformative relationship with audience, something we glimpse as he sings on stage with his past live concerts flashing before us. For Nick Cave it’s better to believe in an idea and work on it, even if turns out to be bad, than not to have ideas at all. He counts every day and every day counts.
 
A must see for Nick Cave fans, and more than an entertaining watch for the rest of us.